I’ve been doing a few posts recently about the hidden side of rosacea (and any skin condition): the emotional aspects. Today I wanted to talk about confidence and unhelpful thoughts. This is a topic that I think most people can find useful, even if you don’t suffer with a skin condition. Confidence, self-esteem, and low self-worth are issues that most people suffer with at some point in their lives. I hope you find this helpful, let me know your thoughts in the comments and leave me your techniques for helping interrupt or stop unhelpful thoughts – I would love to hear them.
I took inspiration for this blog post from a few different speakers at the Skin Matters conference. When you can feel yourself starting to sink into unhelpful thoughts , it’s key to remember the following points (perhaps take a screenshot on your phone or laptop and save them somewhere handy so you can come back to them):
- The fact that you’ve noticed them is a great step – you’re acknowledging them rather than just letting them sink in.
- Question yourself. Are the thoughts fair? Accurate? Helpful? Here’s a personal example – I have a bad flare up and feel incredibly self-conscious. I think ‘my skin looks awful today, people are probably staring.’ Is it fair? I think so. Is it accurate? Maybe a little. Are these thoughts helpful? Not really. Worrying about how others perceive my skin is guaranteed to intensify my flare up so instead I need to focus on myself and how I’m feeling. It’s important to be honest with yourself in order to be kinder to yourself.
- Be your own friend. Think about how you would respond if you heard your sister, best friend, or partner speaking about themselves in the way you thinking about yourself. You would be horrified. You would tell them that they are beautiful, that you love them, and if they needed help you are there for them. Extend the same courtesy to yourself.
- Fact-check. A technique that I’ve found really helpful is acknowledging that your thoughts are just that: thoughts. They are not facts. You may look at yourself and think ‘I look hideous’, ‘I’ll never get a job looking like this’, ‘I will never find someone to love me’ (all thoughts I have had numerous times in the past). But these are not facts. This is your brain trying to handle the alien situation you’ve been thrown into. Your brain tries to protect you by preparing for the worst possible scenario. No one getting on a plane panics about them running out of peanuts, or that the man next to you will smell like a foot – your brain goes straight for the whole ‘dying in a firey ball’ thing, because if you’re prepared for that, you’re prepared for anything. And – the best part? If something isn’t a fact, you don’t have to listen to it! You wouldn’t listen to that aeroplane-foot-man spouting his terrible opinions as though they were fact, you’d politely pop in your headphones and ignore him. Long analogy short – your brain sometimes has terrible opinions.
- Notice, name, neutralise. One way to help defuse these thoughts is to directly address them for what they are. Recently, instead of saying ‘my skin looks disgusting’ I’ve been saying ‘I think my skin looks disgusting…’. It sounds so silly and so simple but as soon as I say it, I immediately hear the ellipses afterwards. And those ellipses are always followed by ‘…but my husband would say I look beautiful’ or ‘…but everyone else on this train is too engrossed in their own issues to even notice me’. You could even try ‘I’m having that thought again, the one where I think I look disgusting’. You are acknowledging that your brain is having these thoughts, and treating them accordingly – as one person’s opinion.
I hope that these tips on limiting unhelpful thoughts have helped you or have at least given you some food for thought. It’s easy to focus on the physical aspects of skin conditions: cutting out certain foods, ingredients in skincare, limiting the environmental factors that may affect them. But you must take care of the emotional aspects of your condition and the repercussions they can have in order to truly help yourself.